Dust Extraction: The Risks of Dust and How to Prevent Them
You might have noticed the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) ‘Go Home Healthy’ campaign is kicking off this month. As part of it, throughout October HSE inspectors are going to be out visiting construction sites to find out how aware workers are of the risks of breathing in dust and what employers are doing to protect their health.
HSE inspectors are out visiting sites to see if builders are thinking of jobs from start to finish, avoiding disturbing asbestos and are working in different ways to avoid creating dust. Are you a #DustBuster who knows how to #WorkRight on site? Read more: https://t.co/5LdkWgvvEh pic.twitter.com/hrJoBcWttj
— HSE (@H_S_E) October 1, 2018
Over 12,000 workers die every year from work-related lung disease. Because of this, in recent years dust extraction and suppression have become important issues on site. Understanding the risks involved and how to avoid exposure to dangerous dust particles are crucial to keeping everyone safe.
What dust types are there?
There are three different types of dust you might encounter on a construction site.
- Silica dust – from working on materials like concrete, mortar and sandstone
- Wood dust – from working on softwood, hardwood and wood-based products like MDF and plywood
- Lower toxicity dusts – from working on materials like plasterboard, limestone, marble and dolomite
What are the dangers of dust?
It’s important to understand the dangers of breathing in these dusts. Dust can do a lot of damage but the main dust-related diseases that tend to affect construction workers are:
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
One of the main things to be aware of is that it only takes a small amount of daily exposure to cause significant health risks. Many everyday, common construction tasks can create a lot of dust and the effects of inhaling it might not be apparent for some time.
How do I reduce dust on site?
The best way to reduce dust and the amount workers are exposed to are:
- Reduce or stop the dust – for example by making sure you’re using the right size of materials so to reduce the cutting required, or by using less powerful tools
- Control the dust – using wet cutters or tools with dust extraction or suppression functions
- Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)
It’s important to note that wearing RPE alone is usually not enough. You should try to reduce or control the dust as well as providing workers with adequate RPE.
Here at The Hireman many of our tools come with integrated dust reduction or removal features, while others can be hired with dust attachments. You can see which of our cutters and grinders have dust extraction options available right here. You can also flick through our catalogue where any tool with dust extraction features is highlighted with a dust icon.
To coincide with the Go Home Healthy campaign, we’re going to be going into more detail about some of our most popular tools with dust extraction features as well as the RPE we can provide, like masks and respirators. We’ll also look at how we’ve improved our own dust prevention practices. Look out for more in the weeks ahead!
Popular tools with dust extraction features